As my 3.5 years living in the UAE came to a close, I thought it only right to spend my last few days there doing something fabulous! I always loved going to the desert and experiencing it’s beauty and tranquility – it was one of my favourite places to visit in the UAE. So what better place to stay than at Bab al Shams Desert Resort. It has been voted on several occasions the world’s best desert resort and absolutely for good reason! It was the perfect getaway! From desert safari riding to feeding falcons, to relaxing in the jacuzzi filled infinity pool and experiencing the ultimate in luxury accommodation and dining, read on to discover more about staying at the world’s best desert resort!
Bab al Shams Resort is set in the most beautiful location in the middle of the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is the ultimate getaway and the 5 star luxury resort has often been awarded The World’s Best Desert Resort. From the minute you enter you can see why: the setting is so unique, the service is impeccable and great attention to detail throughout the resort is evident.
Even though it is located in the middle of the desert there are so many trees, plants, beautiful gardens and water features scattered around the resort. It is truly a desert oasis and there is enough to keep you entertained for several days here!
Traditional Arabian style
Whilst the hotel is very luxurious and modern, they have kept many traditional aspects from the local Bedouin culture. This makes it really feel like you are stepping back in time to an ancient traditional Arabian fort village. The architecture of the hotel takes inspiration from the typical and traditional houses from the region – this was how houses used to be built back in the day here in the UAE before skyscrapers and modern buildings became the norm!! You can really feel a strong sense of UAE pride and heritage here. If you have been to the Al Bastikiya area in Old Dubai with all the old traditional buildings, you will definitely feel some similarities.
Whilst Bab al Shams is only a 45 minute drive from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you really feel like you are in a different world here! It is such a unique getaway from the bright lights and tall buildings in Dubai, where you can experience the ultimate in relaxation, tranquility and Arabic hospitality. Because let’s face it, we all need a break from the city life once in a while right?
Whether you live in the UAE and are looking for a peaceful staycation, or you are visiting the UAE on holiday, spending a few nights at Bab al Shams will totally re-energise you! The hotel’s fabulous location in the desert makes it perfect for families, couple, friends, or those just wishing to have a solo retreat! To visit Bab al Shams’ website, CLICK HERE.
The staff receive you with such a lovely Arabian welcome and provide you with a refreshing welcome drink when you arrive. The lobby area is really spacious and you will find seating areas known as ‘majlis’ here which are traditional, popular in Arabic culture and actually very comfortable! It is a cultural and social space and is also often used as a relaxation area.
You will also see beautiful Persian carpets and traditional art work and local items inside. It has a really nice Arabian vibe here and interiors are so unique.
Walking around the grounds of Bab al Shams you will see there are lots of pathways and alleys, so make sure to stroll around, explore and take in all the beauty! It really feels like a maze with all the different paths and it can be easy to lose your bearings so it is a good job the hotel provides you with a map!
There are several charming shaded courtyards with a distinct Arabic style (built with high walls to ensure privacy) that provide protection from the sun and keep the area cool as they promote wind circulation. There are lots of beautiful reflecting pools and water fountains dotted around the resort too.
During the evening Bab al Shams lights up like an Arabian Palace. The driveways are illuminated with candle lit torches, and beautiful Arabic lanterns are dotted around the resort, creating such an intimate and idyllic atmosphere.
There are also night time fire pits, which exude a magical atmosphere. The air has a slight smell of Arabian Oud, a luxurious scent and type of incense that is very popular in the Middle East.
There are 4 types of rooms: the superior and terrace rooms, and then the junior and deluxe suites. We had the terrace room: it was so stunning and very spacious. It felt very traditional and homely and had a really nice ambience.
The rooms are also designed in the traditional Emirati style. The furniture is made out of solid wood and there are some hangings made of camel and goat hair. There are evident touches of Middle Eastern designs throughout, such as the Arabic bedside lamps, the canopy, and the lounging area in the room to relax. Although the rooms are decorated in a traditional style, they are all very modern with TV, aircon and espresso machines and a fridge.
The bathroom also had a vintage rustic Arabic look, which I just loved.
It was lovely to have our own terrace and be able to relax outside whilst admiring the stunning desert views.
The room had so many personal touches with such attention to detail. It really had character, which was so nice as many UAE hotels actually lack this. There are lots of chain hotels around that can make you feel like you could be anywhere, but at Bab al Shams it felt so unique and special! They even welcomed us with this delicious box of treats!
Bab al Shams resort has 3 pools. My favourite was the large infinity pool that looks out on to the Dubai desert – it is so stunning! It even has jacuzzi areas which is so nice!
The infinity pool was really spacious. Even when there were several people there it never felt crowded and you had your own space.
They also have a family pool which has a bar in the pool you can swim up to, and there is a heated children’s pool too. There is also a freezing rain shower which is so good to run through when it gets really hot!
There’s ample sunbeds too which was great.
There is even a giant chess area next to the pool if you fancy playing!
Breakfast is served at the beautifully decorated Al Forsan restaurant near to the pool. It is a really impressive breakfast buffet with lots of international and local dishes. It was honestly one of the best spreads I have seen.
There was so much choice (there were even 8 different types of milk!!! How’s that for choice!!). Cooked English breakfast, smoothies, smoked salmon and mackerel, cookies, salad, dim sum, dates, croissants, literally whatever you could imagine to eat for breakfast they have it here!
On site restaurants:
Bab Al Shams has several different restaurants, each offering different cuisine and each in a unique setting. From Arabic to Indian, Italian to rooftop lounges, there is something for every taste here! And a bonus for residents of the UAE: Emirates NBD holders get 25% off on food and beverages. You can also avail of The Entertainer vouchers here! Guests staying at Bab al Shams also get a 15% discount on food and beverages too! Click here to read about the restaurants here at Bab al Shams!
Amenities and activities:
Bab al Shams also has a really nice gym and a luxurious spa, but by far what makes this hotel so unique and separates it from all the others is the fantastic range of desert activities available: desert driving in a open-top Land Rover, camel riding, horse riding, fat-bike riding in the dunes or even a falconry experience (extra charges apply for these activities).
Complimentary short camel rides and falcon viewing is also provided by the hotel at 5pm each day. This is great so everybody can get to experience some desert activities.
Open-top Land Rover Desert Safari Ride
An open-top desert safari ride was something I had wanted to do for AGES! I’ve been on several desert rides before, but this was my first time doing it in an open-top vehicle and it was by far my favourite!!
It was a vintage open-top Land Rover which was so amazing. I literally felt like Indiana Jones! Feeling the wind through my hair and feeling so close to the desert felt unreal!!
I booked our one hour desert ride for sunrise as I love watching the sunrise in the desert and didn’t want the sunlight too harsh for my pictures.
Plus as we were there in the summer, I didn’t want to be there during the middle of the day as it would be too hot! The sunrise was so beautiful that morning.
I also wanted to do a sunrise safari as I knew that you have a much better chance of seeing desert animals early in the morning as opposed to later on in the day. And boy did that pay off – we saw so many desert gazelles and Arabian Oryx, it was amazing!
Being in the desert totally surrounded by sand dunes as far as you can see is such a cool feeling! Our driver was so friendly and very patient whilst we stopped and took some photos.
He then took us to Al Qudra lake, a lovely manmade nearby where we saw lots of ducks and fish!
Many people only experience the desert on an evening desert safari. But I definitely recommend staying in a desert resort and doing a sunrise desert safari as opposed to just doing an evening desert safari!
You really get to experience the desert and enjoy it, and you see far more desert wildlife! Sure it is more money, but it is an experience you will remember forever.
Like I mentioned earlier, I had been on several desert safaris, but this experience topped all of them put together. It was literally incredible. CLICK HERE to head to the website and book your own open-top Land Rover Desert Safari ride!
Bab al Shams also offers a one hour falconry experience. This was something I was really looking forward to as the falcon is the national bird of the UAE.
The falcon is held in great regard by the local people as it was often used by Bedouin tribes in the desert for hunting. Many Emiratis have pet falcons and they are a symbol of pride for the local people. Untrained falcons can be bought for around 50,000 dirhams (£10,000), and trained ones can be bought for around 100,000 dirhams (£20,000 dirhams). They have a tracker on them so they cannot get lost as they are so expensive. Plus they even have Falcon Passports (as they are permitted to travel on airplanes)!!
We got to hold and feed three different falcons which was such an amazing experience. During the hour the trainer explained a lot about the falcons. He was really good at making us feel at ease with the falcons. By the end he even had me putting the hood on the falcon!
This was such a special and intimate experience that is so unique to the UAE. I was so happy to be able to have the opportunity to experience this.
Getting to Bab al Shams:
It will take you about an hour to reach Bal al Shams from both Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). However, the nearest airport to Bab al Shams is actually Dubai Al Maktoum Airport (DWC). Not many airlines actually fly from here though – Flydubai and Wizzair are the main passenger carriers that fly to DWC.
When to visit:
In keeping with the rest of the UAE, Fridays are the busiest day as expats often like to come here and buy the brunch and pool passes for the day. Therefore if you want to stay here when it is quieter, stay here during the week, avoiding Fridays and Saturdays. You can also check Groupon and The Entertainer app for deals as they sometimes do promotions here.
In regards to which time of the year to visit, obviously winter in the UAE offers much more favourable weather conditions than the summer. Temperatures average a very pleasant 27 degrees Celsius during the winter. In the summer temperatures can reach a scorching 50 degrees Celcius!! But the air-con here is really good and staying in the pool will keep you cool, so any time of year is a good time to visit Bab al Shams!
Bab al Shams provides all the 5 star luxury treatment you expect from hotels in the UAE, mixed with local heritage and tradition. There is such an amazing atmosphere at this truly unique hotel and it is a really exciting place to visit! With the hotel’s fabulous location, great service and amenities, it is easy to see why Bab al Shams is voted the world’s best desert resort. Having been to 2 other desert resorts in the UAE, I can honestly say this one is without a doubt the best one I have experienced. To visit Bab al Shams website CLICK HERE.
If you would like to see the video documenting my amazing experience at Bab al Shams, CLICK HERE (don’t forget to like and subscribe!).
If you are in the UAE for a while and also fancy experiencing another totally unique and one-of-a-kind hotel, check out my blog post The best luxury hotel to stay in Abu Dhabi from the eyes of a resident – CLICK HERE to read!
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